BOULDER — Former University of Colorado basketball player Bob Jeangerard, one of the program’s early stars, passed away on July 5 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The longtime resident of San Carlos, Calif., was 81.
In June, he was announced as one of nine Buffaloes as a member of the 2014 CU Athletic Hall of Fame class, which is set for induction this October.
Jeangerard was a member of CU’s last Final Four team, generally part of CU’s 1-2 punch with Burdie Haldorson of the school’s dominant early 50s teams under coach H.B. Lee. He was a two-time All-Big 7 Conference first-team selection, averaging 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game during his collegiate career.
As a senior, he averaged 16 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, ranking second on the team in both categories in helping CU win a then-record 19 games in reaching the national semifinals, falling to eventual champion San Francisco. He was the NCAA Tournament Regional Most Outstanding Player.
Considered by many to be a strong team leader, he earned three letters under Lee and was a two-time, first-team All-Big 7 Conference performer. As a senior, he was a member of the CU team that rallied from a 23-point first half road deficit to edge Kansas State; the rally from 23 points down remains to this day a school record. He was second on the team as a junior in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.1), and as a sophomore, his tip-in at the buzzer defeated Oklahoma, 56-55.
After graduation, he was selected as a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic basketball team that competed in the Melbourne Olympics. The U.S. team dominated the games and brought home the gold medal after going undefeated (8-0), winning those games by an average of 53.5 points; the U.S. defeated the USSR twice, 85-55 in the quarterfinals and 89-55 in the gold medal game. The team was loaded, with Haldorson, his college teammate and close friend, and future NBA Hall of Famers, Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.
He was the team’s second-leading scorer when all was said and done, scoring exactly 100 points for a 12.5 average, behind only Russell’s 14.1. In shooting a sizzling 60 percent from the field, practically unheard of in that day and age, he scored a team-high 16 points in the gold medal game, with a best of 21 points in a win over the Philippines.
Once back from the Olympics, he served his country as a pilot for the U.S. Air Force and also was a prominent player on the old AAU circuit. In 1959, he was once again chosen to represent the U.S., playing on its team for the Pan American games. Teaming again with Haldorson and college basketball stars Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, the team again captured the gold medal.
After fulfilling his Air Force commitment, Jeangerard moved his family in 1960 to California where he joined his brothers, Ralph and Jack, along with a friend, Jay Wright, to open a tire shop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gerard Tire grew throughout the area over the next two decades.
The family relocated to San Carlos in 1962, and Jeangerard spent nights and weekends going to law school to become an attorney for the company while remaining one of the owner/managers of the Gerard Tire chain. He retired in 1982.
In retirement, he traveled the world and in-between travels, he played lots of tennis, was active in the community and philanthropy (the Jeangerard Foundation) and enjoyed spending quality time with friends and family.
Jeangerard suffered the onset of Alzheimer’s late last decade and would spend the final five years of his life at the Silverado Belmont Hills Memory Care Community (Belmont, Calif.), where his family reported that he remained happy and upbeat despite his ongoing battle with the disease.
A family statement in his published obituary stated, “With all of Bob's incredible feats, his greatest accomplishment was his devotion to Margie and being a great father and role model for his kids. Bob's zest for life, brilliance, humor, devotion and humbleness is part of his legacy that will live on forever.”
Born Robert Eugene Jeangerard on June 20, 1933 in Evanston Illinois, he graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., where he excelled in both studies and sports. Bob met his late wife, the former Margie Hinkle, while at New Trier as the high school sweethearts were married over 50 years; she passed in 2011.
He is survived by his two children, Sharon Lane (Perry) of Rio Vista, Calif.; Bob (Karen) of Weaverville, Calif.; one brother, Jack, of Madera, Calif.; four grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
An informal gathering celebrating his incredible life will be held at the family house in San Carlos on Saturday September 13 at 1:00 p.m. Gifts in memory of Robert Jeangerard can be made to the Save the Redwoods League at 114 Sansome St., Ste. 1200, San Francisco, CA 94104 or at www.savetheredwoods.org/seedling in support of the Santa Cruz Mountains Campaign.
Tentative plans call for him to be represented by family members at his CU Hall of Fame induction this October 30.